Ross: Large number of ‘hidden workers’ can’t get jobs they’re qualified for

Nov 10, 2021, 8:01 AM | Updated: 9:17 am
job, hidden workers...
A 'Now Hiring' sign is displayed at a fast food chain. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Even though we’re in the midst of a huge economic recovery, something is just not clicking. Polls show 57% of Americans think the economy is on the wrong track.

Higher gas prices, food prices – all of that is very real. But then I ask myself – OK, $4 gas is bad but would I rather go back to last year? When prices were way lower because we were all under house arrest and didn’t need any gas?

No, I think a bigger reason for this predicament is something else I’ve been reading about: the large number of so-called “hidden workers” who can’t get jobs they’re qualified for.

If you look at the numbers, everybody who wants a job ought to have one. There are 7.4 million unemployed workers, and 10 million job openings – that means 2.6 million workers should have TWO jobs waiting for them!

So why is it that millions of workers can’t get even ONE?

Let me summarize what the Harvard Business School found: Too many of companies are using screening software that automatically rejects applicants for what turn out to be dumb reasons, such as, they’ve only worked part-time, or have gaps in their employment history, or lack some credential. And as a result, these companies are creating an underclass of frustrated workers who feel cheated, and rightly so.

Because the Harvard study found computers are routinely weeding out talented, trainable workers who would make great employees – but who never even get close to a human interviewer.

The study counted 27 million of what it called “hidden workers” – workers who get nowhere because the computer assumes that if they lack a college degree or have an employment gap, they’re unskilled, or have no work ethic.

The Harvard experts say what employers ought to do is ask applicants to describe their skills – and use the software to match those skills to the job. So – all of you HR people – how about giving that a try?

When 57% of Americans say the economy is on the wrong track – that isn’t just a problem for politicians. That’s also a message to the companies whose hiring policies are excluding qualified applicants who could help the bottom line, if only a pair of actual human eyes had a chance to see their applications.

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Ross: Large number of ‘hidden workers’ can’t get jobs they’re qualified for